History of the 'Ballad of Lucette'

Late in the summer of 1995, as a meeting of the Northwoods Arts Council was adjourning, one of the board members mentioned that perhaps there should be a pageant honoring Lucette, the town's heroine and Paul Bunyan's sweetheart. Fellow board members Ann DeGray and Joanne Morén said in unison:  “THAT'S A REALLY DUMB IDEA!”  However, several days later on their way from a music meeting in Fargo to an Initiative Foundation meeting at Deep Portage Nature Center, they decided the idea had possibilities.

At the meeting that day, the Northwoods Arts Council representatives were asked to work in a small group to discuss a project that could be a benefit to their entire community. DeGray and Morén brought up the idea of a Lucette “pageant” and the idea was enthusiastically received. They then presented the idea at the next NAC board meeting and received approval to begin work on the show. In 1995 a logo was designed and used for our correspondence, advertising, programs, clothing and brochures.

The Ballad of Lucette has performed to sold-out audiences in 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2007, an 2012. The show has now been attended by approximately 7000 people over the years.  Ann DeGray and Joanne Morén have revised the show each time it has been performed.

July 2012 the Ballad of Lucette

The Ballad of Lucette was presented again in 2012 with Bill Hansen as Paul and Linda Sigtenhorst as Lucette. Ole and Lena were played by Lynn Abraham and Ann DeGray; they have played these roles since the show first ran in 1996. The part of Lucette has been played by Barb Mann in 1996-1997; Judy Wallin in 2000, Noelle Weis in 2003 and Bonnie Shallbetter in 2007. Paul Bunyan was played by Michael Small until 2007 when Bill Hansen played Paul. For more photos of the 2012 show courtesy of Earl Crabb, go HERE

The Ballad of Lucette World Premiere July 7 & 9, 1996

For this first show, we decided not to sell tickets but instead invited the audiences to donate to the Northwoods Arts Council by putting money in buckets at the door after each performance. The show included 35 cast members, 3 musicians, lighting and sound crews and many helpers.

We worked hard to publicize our new show!

  • We printed, folded, and packaged “all occasion” cards featuring Lucette, Paul, Babe, and Ole and Lena. The little plastic zip bags containing 10 cards were SOLD OUT.
  • We printed short and long sleeve T-shirts and sweatshirts which we sold to the cast and friends who wore them everywhere to advertise the show.
  • We sent invitation cards to everyone we knew inviting them to the show.
  • We solicited ads from local businesses to print in the program books. The books listed play information, names of actors, crew and helpers and thanks to our sponsors.

The first performance was on a sweltering Sunday, July 5th at 3 p.m. The Community Building was not air-conditioned at that time. The audience began arriving at 2 pm; by 2:30 pm, ushers had to turn people away and advise them to return for the Tuesday night performance. One large man (Lee Morén) even resorted to holding the door closed when late-comers tried to get in.

On Tuesday night, people began arriving at 5:30 pm and by 6:20, each seat was taken for the 7 pm show. Outside, there was still a line of people, two and three abreast, stretching for two blocks, all waiting, patiently, “Minnesota nice,” to be admitted. Cars were parked everywhere and more people were coming from all directions, “like ants to a picnic,” according to one observer. We made the decision to start the performance at 6:30 pm and to announce to those folks waiting outside that we would add a second performance at 8:15 pm that same night. By the end of the second show, the lumberjacks in their flannel shirts, heavy pants, boots and stocking caps and the women in their long dressed, bonnets and shawls were over heated and exhausted. That first year, over 100 people enjoyed “The Ballad of Lucette” and no one knows how many were turned away.

The Ballad of Lucette Through the Years

The part of Lucette has been played by Barb Mann in 1996-1997; Judy Wallin in 2000, Noelle Weis in 2003 and Bonnie Shallbetter in 2007. Paul Bunyan was played by Michael Small until 2007 when Bill Hansen played Paul. Ole and Lena were played by Lynn Abraham and Ann DeGray all of the years. Click below for a recap of each performance:

1997 

Cass County Centennial Celebration show; program books paid for by ads from local businesses listed play information, names of actors, crew and helpers and thanks. We again printed cards with different drawings on the front and sold them in packs of 8 (sold them all). We sold T-shirts and sweatshirts with the show info. All three performances sold out. Fred Marin’s collection of old logging tools was on display outside the Community Building to commemorate the Cass County Centennial.

2000 

Tickets were $5. All shows sold out. We sold T-shirts and Beanies at the show.

2003 

A program book with ads from local businesses listed the actors, bios, and play information. We sold all three bobble heads; Paul & Babe beanies; Lucette and NAC logo shirts.

2007 

We did not sell sponsorships for this show. The program listed cast and crew and thanks volunteers for their help. We sold a few Lucette 2007 T-shirts; a few Lucette bobble heads and some miscellaneous T-shirts.

2012

We did not sell sponsorships for this show. The program listed cast and crew and thanks volunteers for their help.